For those of you who don’t know, I have had may different passions, and odd jobs. I am one of those people who one day wants to be a yoga teacher, makes the large investment and dedicates countless hours of training to then decide I want to join the circus. Or moves to Colorado, only to realize she would rather live in Florida. Both have happened. Just not the circus. Not flexible enough.
In my course of pursuing my yoga career, which I do still practice for my own sanity twice a week, I met an instructor named Beth Cooke – who is now good friend and role model. Beth is more than just a yoga instructor to me and many, she is a mentor, a walking deliverer of positivity and guidance, and someone who I really look up to. I still remember before we ever met, I was given her number to call, as we are also both sober, and I was looking for guidance on meetings to attend, and navigating New York City as a sober woman. I was so nervous to call her, and honestly didn’t even think she would have the time or want to talk to me with her busy schedule training Victoria Secret Models, her best friend Lena Dunham, and more. I was wrong. Beth took the time to talk to me at length. From the start she was a warm encouraging soul. We ended the call with scheduling a time to meet, and her plans to accompany me to an AA meeting in New York City. I remember hanging up the phone, on a “natural high.” Not only was I so excited to talk to this person who I so admired, but I had also found the support I was looking for in New York City, which can be scary. Lucky for me, I still have her support to this day. Why am I telling you all this? I wanted to interview Beth not only for her excellence in yoga, but because she is an inspiration to me and everyone who has been fortunate enough to come in contact with her. You’ll see…
Me: How did you get into yoga?
Beth: “Well, uh… I got sober about 5 years ago now, which is so wild to say! I realized right away I needed to do some sort of activity, to get the toxins out of my body, and my brain was going crazy because I was so used to being numbed out from substance and alcohol. I got a gym membership to Crunch gym in Union Square, and I was just taking all the classes. I grew up as a dancer, so the dance classes were so much fun, but then I found yoga, and I realized that after every class I would just be feeling so good. I would stay and talk to all my teachers, like I was that girl, that just stayed for a half an hour just talking to my teachers. They would be trying to leave, and I would stop them, and like now I know because people do it to me. I was literally stalking all my yoga teachers, and then I realized I should probably do it, do the training.”
Me: What is your favorite thing about teaching yoga?
Beth: “I love connecting with people, I think I spent so much of my time, when I was using, isolating myself and staying home, and doing drugs… pretty much by myself.”
Me: “Yeh I did that, ….or in bathrooms.”
Beth: “I just didn’t want to be with people, so now to be able to connect with people, with no filter in between, is just like the coolest thing ever for me! But also I know what an impact it had on my life and how much more sanity and how much more stability it gave me, not just in my mind, but also in my body as well. It feels great / it’s special to be able to give that back to somebody else who might be struggling or going through a different type of recovery. I just came from teaching a private with a friend who has been in and out of the hospital and it feels like the highest honor to be able to help her on her journey to healing. It’s literally the greatest joy to help my loved ones feel better in their bodies, feel better for their day. Every student I have feels like somebody that I love, care about, and want them to feel better.”
me: “Cool, I like that.”
Me: What is your daily mantra?
Beth: ” My daily mantra is: We are all practicing.”
Me: “Can I steal it?”
Beth: “You can’t take it, I want to just tell you why it has been so helpful for me, and pretty transformative. I think before, I found what I loved doing, I was so scared to try so many things, because I was afraid to mess up. Even when I first started teaching yoga, I was scared to death. I just had to give myself permission to fail, to be like so what, you forget the words, pause, breathe. You will remember what you were talking about. If you tell them to use the wrong arm, so what, nobodies going to die! But then I apply that to every area of my life, and its like we are all doing the best that we can. I apply it to when I am viewing a certain situation from someone else, like someone cuts me off on the corner, instead of saying F him, it likes he’s in rush, he didn’t realize he cut me off, he’s practicing too. It helps me have compassion for other people as well. It actually comes from a highway sign in middle America, that a guy put up, and my friend Wyatt who passed away took a photo of it, and when I saw the photo I was blown away by it. It is just this light up sign, on a deserted highway. We are all practicing.”
Me: So You work with a lot of celebrities. One being the Victoria Secret Angels, so when you are trying to get them in a balancing pose, say Warrior three, do you just say fly angel fly?
Beth: (Laughs) “No, I think Stella, would look at me, and be like what are you talking about. Stella Maxwell is the best, she is a beautiful yogi, and she is so mindful, so relaxed, really hard working, awesome at self care.”
Me: What are some of the best activewear brands the you love to wear?
Beth: Bandier and Suzie Kondi No question!
Beth: Bandier and Suzie Kondi No question!
Me: I found yoga when in I was in rehab for substance abuse. It has really helped me to reconnect with myself and my spirituality. What advice do you have for someone who is either going through a similar situation or looking for guidance?